There was drama in Majengo, Nanyuki town, on Friday morning after police officers went to arrest a 99-year-old woman accused of selling illicit alcohol and harbouring a criminal gang.
The woman wailed uncontrollably and threatened the officers with a curse if they dared to touch her or search her rented house for incriminating evidence.
But the undaunted officers went ahead with their mission, seizing about nine litres of chang'aa in plastic bottles hidden under her dress, as well as more than 40 knives in the house and some crowbars suspected of being used by gangsters to break into shops and homes.
Also found in the one-room house were several padlocks, five axes, six knives and other assorted items, including dozens of bags of tea leaves hidden in a metal box, believed to be from shop burglaries. The woman's identity card found in the house showed that she was born in 1924.
Laikipia East Deputy Commissioner Patrick Muli, who led the operation, said the woman had in the past evaded arrest by threatening to strip naked and 'curse' any officer who dared touch her illegal wares.
"In the past, police officers had an intelligence report that she was a chang'aa dealer. But it has always been difficult for our male law enforcement officers to get the evidence because she always hides the illegal brew under her clothes and threatens anyone who dares to expose her nakedness," said Mr Muli.
The multi-agency security team arrived, accompanied by several female law enforcement officers, and found her outside her rented house.
When she was told of the impending strip search, she pretended to be ill and then began throwing tantrums, warning police officers that they would drop dead one by one if they dared arrest her.
"You are my grandchildren and you dare to molest a sickly old woman. You will all die soon," she threatened the undercover officers, who reached under her dress and found four bottles of chang'aa.
The officers then went to her house, where they found more bottles of chang'aa and several other items believed to be used by a criminal gang at night.
"She claims to live alone in the house. What is the use of all these different crude weapons? The only logical conclusion is that she lends them to young criminals to terrorise people at night," said Mr Muli.
A local resident, who spoke in confidence, said she had known the woman for years as an "untouchable" chang'aa dealer.
"I settled here in 2017 and found her in the business of selling chang'aa. Locals believe she has some magical charms that protect her from arrest by the police," the resident said.
Speaking at the scene, Laikipia East Police Commander John Tarus said no one would be spared in the ongoing crackdown on illicit alcohol, regardless of age or social status.
Earlier in the day, security officers raided Likii Estate, an informal settlement in Nanyuki Town, where they seized 760 litres of kangara (raw chang'aa) hidden in underground pits on the banks of the Likii River. A female suspect was arrested.
Law enforcers have recently stepped up a crackdown on illegal alcohol, with some 2,060 litres of kang’ara destroyed in Laikipia East sub-county in June alone.